The Federal Ministry of Health has applauded the Cranio-Facial Centre, for offering free treatment to Noma patients at the just concluded commemoration of the 2022 National Noma Day and Scientific Conference in Abuja, on Tuesday.
The event was organised by the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) with the theme “Noma, a disease that should not exist anymore’’.
Addressing participants at the programme, Dr Osagie Ehanire, described Noma as a disease that rapidly destroys both soft and hard tissues. It is infectious, but not contagious. Additionally, it destroys the jawbone, leading to the eventual deformity of the face and head, as well as the bones in the mouth.
He said the disease progresses very rapidly and if not rapidly and properly treated, becomes worse and threatens the life of the patient.
According to him: “Noma has a fatality rate of 90 per cent and affects children between the ages of two and six years, who are suffering from malnutrition, extreme poverty and weakened immune system. Those who survive will suffer severe facial disfigurement; have difficulty in speaking, eating and face mockery and discrimination”.
He commended Hilfaksion Noma eV, a German non-governmental organisation with an interest in fighting Noma disease in Nigeria for its assistance.
“They support the National Noma control programme in Nigeria through World Health Organisation (WHO), which is primary prevention, training and awareness creation. They are also assisting Nigeria by building a 100-bed Noma, Nutrition and Cranio-Facial Centre at the National Hospital, Abuja, where Noma patients will be treated and operated upon at no cost,’’ he said.
He stated that the Noma Children’s Hospital in Sokoto, which records roughly 10 new cases each month, is another facility that offers free care to Noma patients.
“I shall in that respect single out Medicine San Frontières for the commendation of the work they do in sustaining service at the Noma Children’s Hospital Sokoto. Noma is preventable and its aggressive progression can be arrested with early diagnosis and treatment,’’ the minister said.
Ehanire also asserted that many measures are being pursued by the Federal Ministry of Health to increase public awareness of this illness.
“There has been a positive result from this training as evidenced in the increasing number of cases being reported from hospitals, unlike previously, when sufferers knew not where to seek treatment. There is a paradigm shift also in increasing attention given to oral health, in terms of budgetary allocation, advocacy and promotion and effective delivery of oral health care.
“To this end, the Ministry of Health is collaborating with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency to integrate basic oral care into Primary Health Services. The ministry is also collaborating with NOA to ensure that appropriate messages are disseminated at the grassroots,’’ the minister said.